On May 22, Vitsebsk Regional Court heard a case against Belsat TV contributor Zmitser Lupach. The freelance journalist from the town of Hlybokaye appealed against the court rulings to punish him with arrest and fine.
Judge Svyatlana Ivanova did not uphold the appeal. According to human rights activist Pavel Levinau, the court session was protocolary.
“The hearing lasted three minutes. This is not a trial. I cannot understand what these people get their salaries for,” the representative of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee told Belsat.
Zmitser Lupach did not have an opportunity to show up at the hearing, because he is now being held in custody.
On May 8, three officers took Lupach to the police station, promising that it ‘would not take much time’. However, the journalist who was put in the predetention centre on the same day had to spend the weekend in a windowless cell.
On May 11, he was charged and sentenced under Art. 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offences (illegal production and distribution of media products). He got a fine of 1,215 rubles (nearly $500). Zmitser was also tried for his alleged participation in a mass event, and he was sentenced to ten days of administrative arrest. It should be noted that Zmitser Lupach was present at protest rallies, but he just performed his journalistic duties by filming and covering the protests.
On the heels of the hearing, the Belsat contributor became sick as he had had high blood pressure since early morning. His friends called an ambulance to the court; paramedics took him to the intensive care unit.
On May 14, Lupach was discharged from hospital. On the following day, he started serving the ten-day term.
A week ago, another administrative case was initiated against Zmitser Lupach who has been working with Belsat TV for many years. He is charged under Article 22.9 again; the hearing is to take place in Sharkaushchyna district court on May, 26.